How Your Jiu Jitsu Mindset Powers Unstoppable Progress

Growth Mindset Through Jiu Jitsu Practice
Exciting research in psychology shows that much of our success is made possible by our mindset — and a Jiu Jitsu mindset is a skill you can develop, just like any other. 

Jiu Jitsu Mindset

A Jiu Jitsu mindset is the backbone of success. It’s what allows you to meet challenges and become stronger because of them. With a Jiu Jitsu mindset, you have the power to learn, do and achieve more. 

Exciting research in psychology shows that much of our success is made possible by our mindset — and mindset is a skill you can develop, just like any other. 

At Zenyo Jiu Jitsu, we teach that mindset, practice and patience are the keys to achieving your goals; that hard work is necessary to achieve your goals; and that you have to be ready to expect and overcome challenges. With a strong mind and work ethic, you will have the ability to lay the foundation to grow and prosper in your Jiu Jitsu training. 

Two Mindsets

Stanford researcher Carol Dweck has spent her career researching the role of mindset on success. Dweck shares her findings in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential. 

Dweck began studying mindset by observing children as they solved puzzles. She quickly found that the kids could be grouped into two categories: those who thrived on challenges and those who didn’t. She labeled one group as part of a “fixed mindset” and the others as a “growth mindset.” At our Jiu Jitsu gym in Baltimore, we refer to a “growth mindset” as the Jiu Jitsu mindset. 

“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.”

Dweck noticed that many with a fixed mindset avoided struggle and only took on challenges where they could succeed. Without struggling through new challenges and learning new skills, there is no growth. 

She noted that those with the growth mindset could “turn a failure into a gift” — and be much more likely to succeed long-term. 

Take A Look Inside Our Jiu Jitsu Gym In Baltimore

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Mindset Dweck


“Students may train for ten years before earning a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. The belief in your ability to grow is absolutely essential to travel that path.”

Leading The Way

Learning is the hallmark of the growth mindset, Dweck writes. The belief that you can learn with practice, effort and patience leads to great things. Having a growth mindset can totally change the path your life takes. 

“As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets,” Dweck writes, “you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road.”

Dweck notes that success in any pursuit is challenging and takes years to accomplish. If you believe in your potential to grow and improve, you will be more likely to continue working towards your goals when others get discouraged and quit. This is true in Jiu Jitsu. 

On average, students train for two years to rank up their Jiu Jitsu belt. Most students train for ten years before earning a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. The belief in your ability to grow is absolutely essential to travel that path. 

Achieving Success

Many people believe that talent is the essential ingredient to success. Dweck argues that this is the basis of the fixed mindset. In her studies, the idea of talent actually turned out to be a disadvantage; more “talented” students actually worked less hard and avoided challenges, for fear of failure. 

In Mindset, Dweck discusses research on 120 outstanding achievers: concert pianists, sculptors, Olympic swimmers, world-class tennis players, mathematicians and research neurologists. Dweck writes that most were not that remarkable as children and didn’t show clear talent before their training began in earnest. The major finding of the research was that we all have the potential for success. Our ability to achieve comes down to more to mindset than innate gifts. 

Talent, Dweck concludes, is the culmination of effort, practice and growth, not something people are born with.

The truth of this is evident in both sports and Jiu Jitsu. Some of the best of all time were not successful at first. Almost everyone knows the story of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team. Tom Brady was drafted after 199 other players. Olympic wrestling champion Helen Maroulis lost every match but one during her first year of competition. In Jiu Jitsu, Felipe Costa never won a tournament before becoming black belt World Champion. 

For one of the greatest examples of a growth mindset in martial arts, look no further than the legendary Helio Gracie. Sickly as a child, Gracie was small and physically unimposing his whole life. For years, he watched his older brothers train Jiu Jitsu. With his fighting spirit, he built himself into a champion, created the greatest martial arts dynasty in history and trained the first Ultimate Fighting Champion. 

The thing all these outstanding achievers shared was not talent, but mindset — the belief that dedicated work over time could move their potential progressively higher. 

“No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment,” Dweck writes.

Changing Your Beliefs

Everyone has the potential to be talented. The only roadblocks are work ethic and mindset. With a Jiu Jitsu mindset, you create the ability to develop your skills.

“Effort is what makes you smart or talented,” Dweck writes. “You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”

The Jiu Jitsu mindset is the belief that you can do almost anything through practice. It might not be easy; it might take time. Jiu Jitsu is an incredible challenge, but a strong mindset enables you to persevere and succeed. 

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset,” Dweck writes. 

The Jiu Jitsu mindset, and practice, turns “I can’t” into “I can.”

Tips For Growing Your Mindset


  • Some people pick up Jiu Jitsu easier than others. Don’t judge yourself over the short-term. “It’s not something you can know until you’ve put in a lot of effort. Some of the world’s best athletes didn’t start out being that hot. If you have a passion for a sport, put in the effort and see,” Dweck writes
  • Think about your hero. Now research their story and discover the incredible effort it takes to get to the top.
  • Think about your past successes. Realize that if you can succeed at one thing, you can succeed at anything. Think of your past failures. Compare them to your successes. Did you apply the same effort to each?
About Author

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu is the premier Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in Baltimore, Maryland. Zenyo is run by John David Emmett, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with more than 20 years experience.

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  1. Pingback: Rank Up Your Jiu Jitsu Belt: White To Blue (With Free Guide)

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